Medical researchers, Hollywood filmmakers and animal rights activists stand to benefit from Chris Sakezles’ synthetic human body parts.

By Bob Andelman

When Robert Cresanti met Sarasota inventor and entrepreneur Dr. Chris Sakezles in February, Sakezles shook his hand and showed him his thigh.

You can bet that’s the first time that’s ever happened to the U.S. Under Secretary of Commerce for Technology, who came to Tampa that day in February to present Sakezles with a Recognition of Excellence in Innovation award.

And it was entirely appropriate that Sakezles bring out his remarkable thigh because it’s a big part of the attention his company, Animal Replacement Technologies, has been attracting from medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers to cosmetics companies and Hollywood movie studios.

Sakezles, 40, literally invented that thigh. It looks real and, more importantly, feels sickeningly real, right down to the fake blood coursing through its veins.

“I had discussions with a number of scientists when his nomination came up,” Cresanti says. “This technology really stuck out. It was, considering the many innovation awards we’ve given out, among the most unique. The name of the company was kind of odd. But the more I looked at the thoughtfulness, the patents and approach—and I spoke to some of my medical friends about the limitations of present animal testing models—the more interested I was.”

And, as Cresanti pointed out, it’s one thing to read about Animal Replacement Technologies’ design and manufacturing of body parts, but something else to actually hold its work in your hands. “I said to him, ‘When you visit clients, you must have a very interesting experience checking baggage at the airport,’” Cresanti says.

That’s true.

“When I go through the airport with a bunch of penis models,” Sakezles says, “it’s much more interesting. The security people pull them out and wave them around. I get a weird smile and a smirk. Then I have to explain what I do, and I’m not sure they believe me.”